Over 2,500 Greek specialists working in the structures of European administration can be of more direct use in the reform in their home state system than their foreign counterparts. This is the conclusion reached by the leader of Democratic Alliance, Dora Bakogiannis, and the President of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, Guy Verhofstadt. Together they drew a plan for Greece to emerge from the crisis by 2020, and presented it at a mutual press conference in Athens. It has five main points which, if properly fulfilled, will take the Mediterranean country out of the financial morass and Greece will not need a third financial assistance after 2015.
The modernization of the Greek administrative system is the main condition for improving the competitiveness of local economy. "Instead of sending German officials to Athens, as is the idea of some people in Europe, it is more appropriate to use the Greek highly-educated human capital employed in the European structures to support this process," said Verhofstadt firmly. He stated that there are capable and ambitious Greeks occupying key positions at the European Central Bank, the European Parliament and the European Commission. They are independent of the bipolar party system in the country and may be of direct use in turning the heavy bureaucratic system into a smoothly functioning administration.
The recovery programme of European Liberals contains another four points that will lead to the transformation of Greece into an effective and attractive country for investment. "So far, the view of the European committee managing the Greek crisis has been negative rather than positive," said the former prime minister of Belgium and the leader of European Democrats. He said the memorandum for financial aid and the PSI procedure are new measures in Europe. Along with debt reduction and the temporary solution to the financing of debt problems, they do not answer the greatest question, which is the return of growth in the country. The country was isolated from the capital markets after the PSI, which left government entities and private entrepreneurs without financing. Small and medium-sized enterprises cannot take loans for the establishment of new infrastructures or investments, and the funds collected through the years are dwindling in a period of recession in order to keep business alive.
"This gap should be compensated and we recommend establishing a growth enhancement fund." It will be funded by institutional and private funds, 25% of the proceeds from privatizations in Greece will go right into it and the rest will go to repay the debt, as provided by the plan of the supervisory Troika. Dora Bakogiannis added that European liberals have developed a system allowing Greece to completely use the European subsidies, which has been unattainable so far. Another important point in the Liberal programme is making much deeper and radical structural changes, much bolder than those recorded in the Memorandum of financial assistance are. "Serious structural changes do not mean cutting wages. Less government administration means more jobs," said Bakogiannis. So far, governments in Greece have been circling around the issue of closure of inefficient state enterprises and layoffs of state employees. This is a pressing issue that should be seriously addressed, emphasized the representatives of Democratic Alliance. The same goes for the reforms in the tax system. It should be simplified and improved. Taxation of business should be reduced and the control - strengthened.
Dora Bakogiannis stressed that the proposed programme should not be taken as an electoral platform and as a plan to achieve the country's emergence from the crisis. Guy Verhofstadt added, "There is no room for drama in Greece. It is not about the Troika or PSI but about a specific plan for how the country can escape from the vicious circle in which it is now." He believes that the two major ruling parties so far, PASOK and New Democracy, are equally to blame for the present situation in the country. They follow the same model but with different customers (voters). On the other hand, a dangerous surge of extreme left or extreme right-wing political organizations has been seen in Greece and the rest of Europe that could threaten the future of the countries of the old continent. "There is an alternative and it is to soberly look at the problems of the economy and to undertake to resolve them before it's too late," said Verhofstadt. He described the period in which Greece is now as extremely interesting from a political point of view and emphasized that now is the time for people in the country to get rid of old habits (PASOK and New Democracy) and take the decisions about their future into their own hands.
Asked by GRReporter whether Democratic Alliance is ready to unite with Stefanos Manos’ party Drasi in the election fight, Dora Bakogiannis replied, "It takes two to tango. We have demonstrated to any reasonable political forces in the country our willingness for partnership, both before and after the elections. The most important thing for us, however, remains to find allies in Europe because we cannot change Europe, but if we find support outside, it will be easier to pursue the changes inside the country."